Spaza shop fightback

RESIDENTS of Luka, outside Rustenburg, have resolved to take on their tribal leader Kgosi Leruo Molotlegi for allegedly ordering the demolition of spaza shops in the village.

At least seven new spaza shops were bulldozed about a week ago by heavily armed security guards, who claimed to have acted on instructions from Molotlegi. He is also said to have threatened to stop the water supply and demolish backyard rooms, which he said were rented to "foreigners".

About 500 angry villagers, including some headmen, met at Thethe High School on Sunday and decided to challenge Molotlegi to stop further demolitions and to rebuild the demolished structures with immediate effect.

They agreed to march on Molotlegi's head office on Saturday to submit a memorandum to him personally, calling on him to end the harassment of villagers and the demolition of shops.

To guard against any repression from the tribal authority the villagers formed the Bafokeng Anti-Repression Committee and appointed Phistus Mekgwe as interim chairperson of the 12-member committee.

According to Mekgwe, residents could not understand why the tribal authority targeted Luka alone, when spaza shops existed all over the tribal land, including Molotlegi's home village of Phokeng.

He said the meeting resolved that the interim committee should consult Lawyers for Human Rights today and lodge a complaint with the public protector's office.

"It was agreed every household should buy a whistle to blow every time demolishers entered the village," Mekgwe said.

"The aim is to stop more demolitions, failing which the community will have to protect its properties.

"We also want Molotlegi to follow the correct procedure in communicating with the community. He should make use of headmen as used to happen in the past."

The chairperson said residents felt that they were being targeted for having lodged a claim for Doornspruit and Turfontein farms on which Luka has been built.

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